SWFL man headed to Nepal to help with earthquake relief

FORT MYERS, Fla.- A Cape Coral native is preparing to head to Nepal to answer the call for disaster relief after this weekend’s devastating earthquake. The death toll now tops 4,000 people.

A Nepal army spokesman says rescue workers and medical teams from at least a dozen countries are in Nepal helping local police and army rescuers.

Cape Coral native headed to Nepal to help with disaster relief

Benjamin Cumbi, 25 of Cape Coral will board a flight to Nepal on May 5th.

“We just started talking about it and realized we all want to help, so two of us right then in that moment went ahead and booked our flights to go over there,” he said.

Cumbie and three others have been collecting supplies and raising money online, and they hope to partner with more established aid groups to provide disaster relief.

Cumbie has friends and colleagues in Nepal. He says one of his friends who is doing documentary work was able to call home using a satellite phone.

“She enlightened us to the fact that we have no clue how many are truly stuck or injured or need assistance bc of the lack of communication out there and how secluded these areas are,” he said.

Donate and track Cumbie’s efforts online here.

The enormity of the disaster is further felt in Southwest Florida after a soldier who lives in Port Charlotte survived an avalanche set off by the earthquake.

Port Charlotte soldier survives Mt. Everest Avalanche following earthquake

Staff sergeant Benjamin Breckheimer was at a base camp at Mt. Everest. WINK News spoke with his mother, Mary Lyons, who says she heard from her son at 4:00 AM Saturday.

On Monday afternoon the U.S. State Department announced four Americans died at the base camp. He identified two as Ely Taplin and Vinh B. Truong. The other two haven’t been named yet, either because consular officials haven’t confirmed their identities or next of kin haven’t been notified.

Breckheimer was wounded by an improvised explosive device while on deployment with the U.S. Army in Afghanistan in 2009.

His mother says he was trying to become the first wounded warrior to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.

Statement from Bayfront Health on Breckheimer

Breckheimer has been living in Port Charlotte for the last two years.  He works in the surgical department at Bayfront Health.

“Our Bayfront Health team is relieved to hear Benjamin is safe. We look forward to welcoming him back to the hospital, CEO Brandon Downey said.

Statement from Homes for Our Troops on Breckheimer

Breckheimer also received a home from the non-profit Homes for Our Troops.

Executive Director Bill Ivey released the following statement Monday:

“Our hearts go out to those affected by the earthquake in Nepal, and we pray for their well-being. At this time, we at Homes for Our Troops are also hopeful for the safe return of Army SSG Benjamin Breckheimer, one of our Veteran home recipients, who left his home last March to pursue his lifelong dream of climbing Mount Everest.

We have limited details about Ben’s whereabouts and condition at basecamp beyond what we have gathered from his family and friends and through social media. We find it comforting to know, however, that Ben’s military and medical/survival training, as well as his perseverance through severe combat injuries, will help him and other survivors endure through this devastating tragedy.”